Sunday, April 08, 2018

A New BBC Program On The Enfield Poltergeist

BBC Radio 4 aired a new program on the Enfield case earlier today. You can listen to it for free on the page I just linked. (Click the play button in the lower left of the photograph.) They interviewed a few of the eyewitnesses (Rosalind Morris, Graham Morris, Richard Grosse), played some recent comments from Janet and Margaret Hodgson (apparently comments made around the time when The Conjuring 2 came out in 2016), and played some older clips of other eyewitnesses discussing the case.

Here are some of my thoughts on the program:

- Something subtle that people often overlook should be noted at the outset. As far as I know, none of the Enfield witnesses have recanted. We're now a little more than forty years past the start of the case, and all of the dozens of individuals who claimed to have seen one or more of the paranormal phenomena have stood by those claims.

- The initial disinterest and skepticism of so many of the witnesses is striking. In this BBC program, Graham Morris repeats what he's said before about how reluctant he and his colleagues at the Daily Mirror were to get involved in the case to begin with (6:34-7:30) and how skeptical he generally is about the paranormal (8:27-8:39, 39:29-39:40). He still thinks a scientific explanation will eventually be found for the Enfield phenomena, but he acknowledges that science has no explanation at this point. He's said, and repeats in this program, that he wouldn't have believed in the phenomena if he hadn't witnessed them himself, and he goes as far as to suggest that nobody should believe in such events without having witnessed them (27:39-27:50). Despite that excessive skepticism, he acknowledges that paranormal events occurred in the Enfield case. He also refers to other skeptics who came to the Hodgson house, witnessed paranormal events there, and left believing in the authenticity of the case (27:51-27:57). Rosalind Morris also refers to her initial skepticism (9:12-9:17), and she seems to express agreement with Graham Morris' comments about expecting a scientific explanation to eventually be found for what happened at Enfield (39:40-39:45). Think of how significant it is that people who are so (overly) skeptical of the paranormal have spent the last forty years maintaining that they witnessed paranormal events in the Enfield case.

- Richard Grosse isn't as skeptical as the Morrises, but he does refer to how reluctant he was to get involved in Enfield and how he told his father he wouldn't visit the Hodgson house unless more significant events started occurring (10:57-11:36). He was eventually convinced that the reported events were significant enough to warrant a visit, and here (until 44:06) you can get a brief description of what he experienced at the house.

- Since Grosse hasn't gotten much attention as an Enfield witness, despite being the son of the chief investigator of the case, his comments during this recent BBC program were especially significant. He discusses what it was like to interact with his father about the case while it was going on. I don't recall hearing this much from Grosse about these subjects in any other interview, documentary, or anywhere else.

- There's a lot of discussion of the poltergeist voice during the program. Most of what's said about the subject is just a repeat of what's been said many times before. But from 24:57 to 25:45, Rosalind Morris and Grosse comment on how the voice wasn't traceable to anybody in the room and can't be explained by ventriloquism. It's significant to get that sort of testimony from witnesses who were present when the voice was speaking. In some ways, they're in a better position to judge the voice than we are. They may have picked up on details that we can't reconstruct.

- Like so much other coverage of Enfield, this program significantly underestimates the evidence supporting the authenticity of the case. They give too low an estimate of the number of witnesses involved, wrongly refer to the events stopping in 1979, say nothing about the scientific tests done on Janet's paranormal abilities, say nothing about the poltergeist voice coming from people other than Janet and Margaret and from non-human sources, understate the number of witnesses to Janet's levitation on December 15, 1977, etc. See my previous posts on Enfield for a better idea of how substantial the evidence for the case is.

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